Saturday, August 29, 2009


Oooooh. School is back in session. It started on Monday. I have been excited for a couple of weeks, and I'm not attending school at this point in my life. I do have two children who do attend school, though. I love them dearly, I want to point out, so that nobody can claim otherwise. But I can't deny that I couldn't wait for school to begin.
Listen: I'm faced with both an Age Gap and a Gender Gap. What that means is my son (older, male) is not interested in the same television shows as my daughter (younger, female) is. That's logical. That's fine. Until you have to hear about it. Then it's loud. It's annoying. It's annoying as hell, actually, especially when you take into consideration the fact that we have three televisions in this house. But we only have one in the living room.
Don't even think about getting them to give up the remote. It leaves the room when they do, if I don't catch them first. They've even brought it to the bathroom with them. They can't control the television from the bathroom. But neither can anybody else.
Our living room has just one television, but it has two couches (a big one and a small one, or, in decorator-speak, a sofa and a love seat). Even when they sit (that is to say, lounge) on separate couches there seems to be a battle. "His foot's in my way!" or "She's poking me!" or the ever-popular "He's (or She's) looking at me!"
I was one of six children who grew up with one television. As a parent, writing what I just wrote, I feel a need to say (as I do often, but not enough), "Mom, Dad, I'm sorry."
I love my kids, but I am glad that they're back in school. School can provide so much more structure than I can realistically provide. They're spending time with their peers, and that helps keep things calmer. The routine is helpful. I'm glad they're back at school.
But this morning, Ellie kissed me goodbye, got on the bus and sat down and started talking with her friends.
She didn't even wave out the bus window.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On Little League...and Winning

Tomorrow is my son's first Triple A, or extended league game. It's not affiliated with Little League, but all of his teammates played in the same Little League division as Joey. It's a step up, competitively, from where he was during the Little League season.
Yeah, I said competitively. Here's why: baseball is a competitive sport. It's a fact - look it up if you have to. It's in the rules. It explains the scoreboards at the fields.
A lot of people say that winning isn't important. I disagree. I don't believe that winning is the most important thing at the Little League level, but it's important. At the Little League level, the most important thing is learning. These kids are playing baseball to learn the intricacies of the game; to pick up skills that help them grow as players. Why? So that they can win.
At the Little League level, fun is important. But the truth is, winning is more fun than not winning (we shouldn't say losing). It feels much better. You can play hard, and play your best and know those things in your head but your heart knows that your team scored fewer runs than they did. As coaches, we hope that the kids really hear us when we tell them that they played a great game, and nobody should hang their heads, and we're really proud of them and the way they played. But their tears tell us they didn't.
At the Little League level, winning is more important to the kids than to the coaches. Nobody in the dugout could tell you if the count is 3-2, 0-2, or 1-2; but they all know if the poor guy running the scoreboard is missing - or GOD HELP HIM, adding - a run. Even at the T-ball level, each of the kids keeps a mental score. Of course, no two tallies match. The coaches don't keep score - all the games end in a tie - but every kid leaves the game knowing who won.
Little League coaches want their teams to win. The good ones do, anyway, and here's why: when they win, they prove that we're teaching and they're learning. And that's the most important thing.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

O.K., I'm Back.

Sorry it's been a while. I've been pretty busy, and a little embarrassed after the David Ortiz post. I can't just blame it on that, though (check out paragraph 2 from my 3/31/09 post for my excuse). But I have been busy.
One of the things I've been busy with is my son's Little League team. I was an assistant coach. Our season just ended, and I have got to say that while our win-loss record could have been better, we did all of the things that we were supposed to do. The guys on the team - ranging in age from 8 to 11 - all got to be better players than they were when the season started. They surprised me with something spectacular every game. I'm really proud of them all: Elliott, Ian, Matty, Jackson, Silas, Cody, Braelen, Joey F., Alex, Joe T., Henry, Luke and Chandler.
I was supposed to run our final practice, but it got rained out. I wanted to keep their the boys' heads in the game, so I sent this e-mail:

"Due to the weather, today's practice has been called off. Since we can't hit the field and physically practice today, I'd like each of you to try to get in some mental practice. The Red Sox play at 1:35 today - the game will be on NESN, and they'll probably play it again tonight. I'd like each of you to watch at least three full innings of the game, or another baseball game, if you'd rather. As you watch, pay attention:

"CATCHERS: Watch how the catchers set up for pitches. Never mind the signals - we don't use those. Watch the mitt location, and pay special attention to what the catcher does when the pitch comes in. He stays in his crouch. When a catcher stands to catch a pitch, it gives the ump the impression that the pitch is a ball. The catcher stands up to make the throw back to the pitcher, and he throws it back TO the pitcher, so that the pitcher doesn't have to work hard getting the ball. Notice, too, how the catcher moves after the ball is hit - fair or foul. Try to do what they do.

"PITCHERS: Watch the pitchers' motions. They're very consistent, that is, they don't vary much from pitch to pitch. Notice how the pitcher always throws with a full arm extension, and then follows through.

"INFIELDERS: Watch for the "ready position." (Usually best seen in replays, since the camera is on the batter to start) Notice which position covers which area of the field, and how they call balls out. The successful plays always begin with the player getting the ball - if you don't catch it, you can't get the hitter out. First base- stretch for the catch, but make the catch, even if it means taking your foot off the bag. A passed ball is an extra base.

"OUTFIELD: Watch how the outfielders line up fly balls hit to them. Watch how they get under the balls, and don't simply reach out to make the catch. Notice how they drop to one knee to field grounders - infielders don't have time to do that, but in the outfield, it can keep the ball from rolling past you. In the outfield, a passed ball is often TWO extra bases.

"ALL FIELDERS: Even major league ball players use cut-offs. Watch who cuts off and where. Try to understand why they used the cut-off the way they did.

"BATTERS: Watch the batters. See how they stand in the batter's box - and stay in it, unless they're likely to get hit. Notice how the batters hold their bats - the bats are back, waiting at the back of the swing. They don't have to pull the bat back to start their swing. It takes too much

"This is a fun kind of practice. It can be done with a snack, a drink, even a parent. It can last longer than three innings, too, if you want!"

So, I was surprised by the number of families on the team that don't have cable television, and therefore don't have access to a lot of Major League Baseball. I was also surprised by the number of positive responses I got to that practice.
It's been a great season, no matter what the W-L says.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Who's Got the Curse Now?

If you know me, you know that I am a Red Sox fan. If you know Red Sox fans, you know that we are anti-Yankee. So the recent sweep of the New York Yankees by the Boston Red Sox was a thing of great joy to me.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not a Yankee-hater. I don't want anything bad to happen to the New York Yankees. I just don't want anything good to happen to them. I don't want their plane to crash, but if it developed engine problems before take-off and they had to sit on the runway and forfeit a game, it would be OK. I don't want them to get the swine flu, but some temporarily debilitating game-day gastrointestinal upset after a bad taco wouldn't be bad. Get it? Nothing bad, but nothing good, either.

So, how about the new Yankee Stadium, huh? Quite a few baseballs have left that park this month, with a significant number leaving by way of right field. Let's think about that for a minute. Does anybody else remember last April? That was when workers removed a David Ortiz replica jersey from the construction of the new Yankee Stadium. It had been put there by a construction worker from the Bronx who happened to be a Red Sox fan. Gino Castignoli, a Sox fan since 1975 (he idolized Jim Rice), worked just one day on the project, and buried the jersey beneath two feet of concrete. Does that ring a bell, anyone?

Castignoli had hoped to curse the Yankees, but when the jersey was removed, most people thought that the curse was foiled. Maybe it was just softened. I may be accused of trying to draw the conclusion I want, but think about it: When opponents set up what Red Sox announcers call "the Ortiz shift," where do the players move? Toward right field, because David Ortiz bats left-handed. And so many home runs sailing to right and right-center? Could it be more than a mere coincidence? Could the new Yankee Stadium be cursed?

David Ortiz is in a bit of a slump right now, for sure. At .287, he's got the lowest batting average in the starting line-up (bad for somebody we pay to hit), 20 strikeouts (see previous parenthetical comment) and no home runs. I'm looking forward to May 4, when David Ortiz stands in the batter's box at the new Yankee Stadium. I suspect that, if there's any truth to this curse, if Gino Castignoli's buried jersey did its work, David Ortiz will end his slump.

Of course, if it ends sooner, that's OK, too.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Bunch of (Somewhat) Random Sentences

It has been a while since my last post, as my friend Colleen pointed out in a recent comment. I'm touched by the fact that she was concerned, and wasn't merely pointing out that I was lazy.

I was being lazy, sort of. I used to write a column for a newspaper, complete with deadlines. The trouble with deadlines is that, even if you don't have any ideas for a column, you still have to write one. The good thing about deadlines is that, even if you don't have any ideas for a column, you still have to write one. I couldn't let nineteen days just slip past without a word.

That's why I'm writing this post, even though I don't know what I intend to write about.

Tuesday Weld was born on a Friday.
Mouse sex only lasts five seconds.
Rats can't vomit, which is why poison is so effective against them.
Andrew Jackson took part in more than 100 duels.
75% of Earth's creatures are insects.
It's illegal to dance to The Star Spangled Banner in some states.
The letter "Q" doesn't appear in the names of any of the 50 states.
Only one state is named after a president.
A common housefly lives for about 2 weeks.
A common housefly buzzes in the key of F.
Every person's tongue print is unique.
You can't get blood out of a jellyfish, either. They don't have any.
There are about ten million bricks in the Empire State Building.
Your hands and feet contain more than half the bones in your body.
Your feet give up about a quarter cup of sweat daily.
Lonely parrots can go insane (sounds like a song title).


Thursday, March 12, 2009

What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up

I was at work yesterday, and the television in the lounge was tuned to NESN. Charlie Moore Outdoors was on, and I stopped for a moment and watched a little bit of it. The guy has earned the nickname, "The Mad Fisherman." He's hyper, crazy and fun to watch.

But that wasn't what struck me the most.

I want to have a fishing show.

Not because I'm a really great fisherman. Not because I really like to fish. I mean, I do like to fish, but that isn't why I want to have a fishing show. I want to have a fishing show because it just seems like the world's easiest way to make a living. Sorry, Charlie, it just does.

How hard can it be? It's recreation for pay. Sometimes you might have to fish for eight or ten hours to get enough usable video. OK. I have fished for eight or ten hours for absolutely no pay. Sure, it's a long day, but it's fishing for goodness' sake! That isn't the same as working.

I'm not talking about the crew - they're working. The host is fishing and talking.

I'll bet he's got sponsors providing his equipment, too. Good gear, and he gets to travel to all sorts of different fishing spots to fish! That's the kind of business trip I could really get into.

Summing up: Quality equipment for free, travel, a certain level of fame, pay, and fishing.

That's why I want my own fishing show.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


So, it was a little more than twelve hours after the 3:30 AM telephone call, that I got the next call. My granddaughter, Alyssa Lynn, had finally graced us with her presence - all seven pounds, three ounces and nineteen inches of her.
I can relax now.